Wednesday, January 9, 2013

my very own sharia law

And who wouldn't like to have the answer to whatever questions or uncertainties nag?

And not just "the answer," mind you, but The Answer, the unquestioned and unquestionable and infallible answer ... the one that allows for no further discussion or doubt. Ku Klux Klan or white-wine liberal ... is there any setting in which such a longing doesn't rear its head -- some strict and immutable format within or without?

There is no chance of understanding without stricture and structure -- without discipline -- and yet where stricture and structure are relied upon, what chance is there for understanding?

Jimmy Fortune rides Infallible to victory in the Nell Gwyn at Newmarket

In Washington, D.C., the National Cathedral, an Episcopalian heavy-hitter, has announced that it will begin performing same-sex marriages. Christians, if news stories are to be believed, can get pretty vocal, both pro and con, when it comes to the intersection of their religion and homosexuality. For some, stricture and structure are under assault. For others, gay unions are a natural expression of love that deserves acknowledgment.

This story out of Washington made me think idly of how the Roman Catholic Church is marginalizing itself with its version of sharia -- the implacable assertion of rules and regs of which only the church has an approved interpretation.

In the Muslim Middle East, sharia is frequently no mere benevolent, strict-daddy theory: Its application has led to killings, keeping young women from school and other quite-practical and ably-excused cruelties.

Wikipedia says of sharia law: "Though interpretations of sharia vary between cultures, in its strictest definition it is considered the infallible law of God  -- as opposed to the human interpretation of the laws." "The infallible law of God" and yet Wikipedia's definition also says, "Where it has official status, sharia is interpreted by Islamic judges ...."

Wits, wags and others with two brain cells to rub together point out reasonably (and sometimes with smug glee) that Islamic judges are human beings and hence can offer only a human interpretation of whatever law it is that they consider infallible.

It's a conundrum that afflicts Islam, the Vatican and plain old individuals: The Infallible Answer is invariably fallible. Wits, wags and others with two brain cells to rub together may infer from this observation that there is no infallible answer ... an infallible conclusion about which they can be pretty raucous.

Everything is relative on the one hand and yet, on the other, there is this yearning for The (Immutable) Answer. Anyone who has involved himself/herself seriously in spiritual adventure has felt this lash. Buddhists address the issue by suggesting that a middle way is best -- holding the reins tight but not too tight -- but talk is cheap and, as one Zen teacher observed when asked what the Middle Way meant, "It means the extremes." My bet is that finding a middle way relies utterly on exercising the extremes ... my very own version of sharia.

Discipline, as far as I can figure out, has no inherent virtue: It is simply an acknowledgment of the fact that a lack of discipline has demonstrable and sometimes very unhappy-making consequences. So ... OK ... there is discipline, the stuff that might roughly be defined as doing what you don't want to do. I have my sharia and you have yours. Each of us exercises discipline in a search for happiness ... a The Answer anyone might long for.

And I think it is OK. Exercise a sometimes onerous discipline ... own it ... and clean up the messes that are bound to occur along the way. My sharia is mine. Yours is yours. But laying my sharia off on you is a step too far ... egotistical on the one hand and stupid in the sense that it can never work. Suggestions are one thing, 'answers' are quite another. Come together as brothers and sisters? Sure. But extend some The Answer generalization to one and all? Dumber than a box of rocks, however delicious.

Oh well ... just noodling.


  1. The pope has only spoken infalliably twice in your lifetime (and I don't need to remind you that you are old). I've pointed this out to you before but you seem to want to believe what you believe and think what you think. Brain cells and facts be damned!

  2. "The pope has only spoken infalliably twice in your lifetime..."

    Ummmm ... assuming you're not pulling my leg, was he right?

    And, assuming you're not pulling my leg, in what way does anyone categorize the statements that were not infallible? Were they open to discussion, questioning and revision? Do Catholic women seeking abortions or to become priests, or Catholic homosexuals hoping to marry have reason for optimism? Does the curia dare to doubt?

    I suppose these may be pig-headed questions from an old man.

  3. That your entire post is made irrelevant by a fact (yes I'm not pulling your leg) when presented with the truth you seek out more misses and rambling. If Catholicism is life and so is the holocaust and newtown. Nothing is outside of it and yet your posts continue to point out those that are the other. Them over there. Your just talking to yourself in what you hope is a monologue. When facts and truths interrupt you shift and rather than considering you might be wrong you just pause long enough to reboot and continue to repeat the same stuff. I'm sure we are all like that to a certain degree but you have the misfortune of laying it all out for everyone to see.

  4. "Anonymous" -- Your observations are no doubt on target. I would, however, point to the descriptive appended under my picture on this blog: "Except to the extent that it might help others to consider what kind of fool they would prefer not to be, this blog does not aim to help anyone."

    No reason to be my kind of fool, I imagine.